Walmart to Build Automated Fulfillment Centers Within Stores

Walmart to Build Automated Fulfillment Centers Within Stores

Walmart (NYSE: WMT) announced Wednesday that as a means to accelerate online sales delivery and curbside pickup, it will be creating small-automated warehouses within dozens of its locations. The company will use the current store’s footprint or expand it in order to achieve the new plan.

The centers are set to be manned by robots that will select the desired grocery products instead of regular employees. The method will quicken the process according to Walmart. Following that, the items will be taken to workers to package up for pickup or delivery.

After testing a system in 2019 named Alphabot within its Salem, New Hampshire store, it quickly experienced positive results. The arrangement permitted the company to gather orders within minutes and have them ready for customers in just an hour’s time. 

Additionally, the new centers are anticipated to reduce traffic inside the store as they will decrease the amount of employees picking inventory from the store floor to package an order. Amid the ongoing pandemic, crowded aisles are an issue for retailers as online shopping picks up. According to retail analysts, automated fulfillment centers will aid in resolving this dilemma. 

The retail giant will be testing several configurations and will partner with different technology providers as it automates more stores. Some of these include Alert Innovation, Dematic and Fabric. According to Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer product at Walmart U.S, a few stores will have a designated pickup area where both customers and delivery drivers will be able to scan a code and take their order.

Walmart believes that even after the pandemic subsides, customers will still heavily rely on online deliveries.

“As we move ahead, we don’t see the use of these services changing in the future,” Ward said. “We expect that we’ll continue to serve more and more customers who have come to rely on pickup and delivery as an important part of their lives.”

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